Volume 12 Week 5

Friday, March 24


 

Posted March 17

Posted Feb. 16

Posted Feb. 17

polls

Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

Beacon Hill,
Cyrville Ward
Tim Tierney

 

 

 

 

Major Midget AA
Jr. Grads come up short in bid for Major Midget championship
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Playing 11 games in 12 days with a depleted lineup and a shortened bench finally caught up to the Cumberland Jr. Grads on Friday as they were unable to raise the level of their play in the critical third period of Game 7 in their Major Midget championship series against the Nepean Raiders.

After losing the first three games of the series, the Jr. Grads traveled to Prescott last weekend to take part in the Leo Boivin AA/AAA Midget Tournament and ended up making it all the way to the final before losing 3-2 in overtime to York Simcoe.

When the series resumed on Monday, the Grads used the positive experience they gained from the tournament to spur them to a 4-0 win over the Raiders. They followed that up with a 2-1 win on Tuesday to keep their championship hopes alive.

Playing in front of their family and friends at the Ray Friel Centre on Thursday night, the Jr. Grads once again dug down deep to manufacture a 4-1 win despite playing most of the game with four defenceman and three call-up players. Unfortunately, they lost two two more of their regular starting defencemen when Patrick Milligan and Kurtis Craney-Plouffe both had to leave the game with injuries.

With Game 7 scheduled to go less than 24 hours later, Grads head coach Bob Paquette had no choice but to add another affiliated player to his lineup in David Labelle who he called up from the Jr. Grads' Major Midget RepB team.

The Jr. Grads got off on the right foot by scoring the first goal of the game midway through the opening period. Unfortunately, it only took the Raiders less than two minutes to respond. When Eric Witzel was sent off for slashing, Mark Vradenburg scored during the man advantage on a pass from teammate Chris Shepherd.

After the two teams changed ends to start the second period, the Jr. Grads had a difficult time maintaining any sort of sustained pressure in the offensive zone. The Raiders, meanwhile, had several excellent chances but couldn't score the go ahead goal until Pat Cameron used Shepherd as a decoy on a 2-on-1 break and fired a shot that beat Martin Parent low glove side.

The goal lit a brief fire under the Jr. Grads who tied the game 19 seconds later on a shot from David Perron who benefited from a rebound off a shot from Mathieu Mombourquette. Twenty-six seconds later, the Jr. Grads forced the Raiders to turn the puck over in the neutral zone which they immediately turned into a scoring opportunity.

Michael Desjardins' intitial shot ricocheted off the far post right to Nicholas Ziebell who simply had to redirect the puck into a wide open net to give the Jr. Grads a 3-2 lead heading into the third period.

Things started to go terribly wrong for the Jr. Grads six minutes and 29 seconds into the third stanza when the Raiders' Pat Cameron made a great move on call-up defenceman Josh Derouchie before firing a bullet that caught the inside of the far post to tie the game at 3-3.

The Raiders took the lead four minutes later on a goal by Kyle Drisdelle that Parent would dearly love to have back. Drisdelle's wrist shot from the top of the right face off circle eluded Parent's outstretched trapper and sailed into the back of the net.

Trailing 4-3, the Grads still had plenty of time to comeback against the Raiders, but their exhausted bodies just wouldn't allow them to switch things into another gear.

Even so, Desjardins had a glorious opportunity to tie the game at the 8:15 mark of the third period but his shot from 20 feet out rang off the left post after it had clearly beaten Allard.

They would get other opportunities thanks to a trio of penalties assessed to the Raiders, but they squandered the first one by taken a bonehead penalty 50 seconds into the man advantage; they only mustered two shots during the second power play and they were unable to control the puck during the last 1:37 seconds of the game after Vradenburg was sent off for roughing.

When the final whistle blew, several of the Jr. Grads slumped to the ice in total exhaustion while the Raiders celebrated their victory.

Following the trophy presentations, Jr. Grads head coach Bob Paquette admitted that the team's grueling schedule over the past two weeks had taken its toll on the team.

"We definitely had the desire to win. The kids really wanted it, but they just didn't have anything left in their legs. The combination of fatigue and a short bench took its toll on a couple of shifts here and there and it cost us," said Paquette. "The kids were exhausted."

The coach singled out his depleted defensive unit for special praise for hanging in as long as they did, despite putting in an extended amount of minutes. He also praised his young coaching staff who are all from the Hearst area.

Asked to pick out the highlight of the season, Paquette said it was definitely their sweep of the Kanata Blazers in the semi-finals. The Blazers have been the Jr. Grads nemesis for the past four or five years, especially in the playoffs where they've provided the team with early round exit after early round exit.

"That was the highlight of the year. The fact that we eliminated the Blazers after they had eliminated us so many times," said Paquette. "They've had our number for so many years. It was nice to finally turn the tables on them."

The Jr. Grads will now get a week off before wrapping up their season with an exhibition game against a team from Sweden at the Ray Friel Centre on Wednesday, April 29at 7 p.m.

'(Posted 8:30 a.m., April 4)

 

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